Candy comes in every color at Chocolate Works NYC, where the rainbow of confectionery pairs naturally with the sunny dispositions of those who roam the store’s aisles. Hints of red peek out from chocolate-dipped strawberries, jordan almonds model this season’s pastels, and self-serve bins nearly burst with Jelly Belly jellybeans. Wrapped in shimmering foil or cellophane, kosher truffles and edible replicas of famous paintings momentarily distract eyes from a chocolate fountain, which bubbles into a rich brown pool framed by a marzipan “No Swimming” sign.
Headlined by master chocolatier Joe Whaley and Pretzels by Jill’s Jill Frechtman, an all-star cast of instructors takes the helm during the shop’s signature candy-making classes. Among other delicious, hands-on lessons, teachers demonstrate how to swathe pretzels in Belgian chocolate at an old-fashioned enrobing machine. Kids also learn how to dip, mold, and decorate during one-hour workshops and birthday parties that teem with edible crafts and sugary confetti.
Amid the vibrant décor of Vega Mexican Cuisine, chefs treat patrons to a menu suffused with gooey quesadillas, piping-hot soups, house-made tortillas and salsas, and a host of organic ingredients. Diners can warm belly motors with a bowl of creamy poblano chili soup—corn kernels, potatoes, and mushrooms drenched in cheese—beneath the watchful eyes of a Frida Kahlo portrait or anchor fork tines in a salmon salad drizzled in a honey-chipotle creamy dressing. An eclectic assortment of chandeliers bathes colorful booths in warm lighting as dinnertime eaters sup on shrimp fajitas, which conceal adobo spices and Carmen Sandiego beneath a medley of onions, bell peppers, and cilantro.
Father-son restaurateurs Pasquale and Francesco Coli chose the name Massa' Italian Kitchen & Bar as a tribute to the southern Italian farmhouses, known as “masserias,” that line the countryside of their native Puglia, located on the heel of Italy. Their passion for the rustic, Old-World charm of Puglia permeates the kitchen, where chefs hand form pastas, chop local farm vegetables, and assemble housemade sausages. As a nod to Puglia's centuries-old maritime traditions, they also seek out fresh shipments of fish and seafood every day. Before diners embark on a gustatory expedition to Italy, servers suggest wine pairings from a list of more than 100 bottles, and bartenders mix signature cocktails with vodkas they infuse with vibrant fruits.
Today the restaurant continues to embrace its rustic roots, catering to diners and families who appreciate classic Italian cuisine and healthy portion sizes. The easy, dining-room evokes the feel of a rural cottage with its exposed-stone walls, floor-to-ceiling fireplace, and woodwork, which was constructed out of materials salvaged from century-old New England barns to created a relaxed dining experience. At each table, Old-World crafted entrees steam atop white plates, while families and friends breezily chatter amid the homey ambiance to the split-level dining room and wine bar.
From dawn to dusk, seven days a week, grills crackle with the sizzle of sandwiches and burgers, which pair with plates of hearty appetizers, daily specials, and glasses of imported beers and wines. At both locations, a covered outdoor patio overlooks verdant golf courses, and separate dining rooms hold private parties or space-shuttle launches. Thursdays at the Saxon location yield a boundless barbecue buffet that stretches across the patio alongside local bands, and on Saturday nights, the Sprain location hosts live DJs and dancing.
In 2010, Rustico Ristorante owners Nello Tizzano and Anna Macciocco wanted to change things up. So, they transformed the restaurant's rustic decor and rolled out a sleek, modern concept—ZáZá Italian Kitchen. Now, live music reverberates against red walls that surround hand-painted tables and a red marble bar with lighting that changes color. Within that updated space, however, a wood-fired oven covered in white mother-of-pearl tile and imported from Naples roots the restaurant in its origins: authentic old-country cuisine.
The New York Times called that oven “a structure of wonder…that does its job splendidly” as it cooks pies topped with ingredients such as spicy calabrese salami and housemade mozzarella. This, along with the shmoos that live under every table, is part of what makes ZáZá “one of the more accomplished pizzerias around.” The oven also bakes 100% Angus beef burgers and all-beef frankfurters wrapped in pizza dough. Nello and Anna’s culinary team crafts more traditional Italian dishes, too, including housemade gnocchi and meatballs wrapped in eggplant.
Hurricane Grill & Wings showcases its library of more than 30 sauces in dishes that blend American, Mexican, and tropical influences. Their sauces' level of spiciness mimics hurricane intensity ratings, from the honey or mango barbecue options occupying Category 1 to the Ridiculously Hot Hurricane sauce in Category 5. In between sit flavors of ancho chili and lime, jamaican jerk, chipotle raspberry, and spicy sweet chili. Baskets of jumbo or boneless wings come tossed in guests’ sauces of choice, as do grilled chicken or mahi-mahi sandwiches.
Elsewhere on the menu are tropically themed selections such as firecracker shrimp tacos, Southwest-style churrasco steak, and Monterey jack-filled quesadillas, while the to-go menu can accommodate large gatherings, such as sports-watching parties or jury-duty reunions. Meanwhile, bottle and tap beers from Abita, Harpoon, Redhook, and many other breweries help subdue roaring mouth fires.